Community members have stepped up to help with an auction and dinner Sunday that will benefit a Buckhannon teenager diagnosed with cancer.
Tiffany Ross, 13, was recently diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that is usually remedied by removing the bone itself. She has a tumor on her spinal column that could force the surgery to proceed, but there's an alternative treatment that can help.
Doctors and family members are trying to avoid the surgery and are hopeful that proton radiation therapy can help Tiffany. Her doctor didn't want to perform the surgery because it was very risky, said Cathy Ross, Tiffany's mother. Only a few hospitals in the nation offer the therapy, and traveling expenses, missed work and the cost of the treatment itself is a hefty but necessary burden on the family.
Tiffany will undergo six weeks of proton radiation therapy at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and a dozen three- to five-day cycles of chemotherapy at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Many businesses and community members have donated various items to be sold at the auction, including The Inter-Mountain, which donated an umbrella and a newspaper subscription. A 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser, golf and ski packages, antiques, toys, tools, guns, electronics, gift certificates, plot puppies, glassware and more also will be auctioned off by John Bowers at the benefit auction and country fried steak dinner starting at noon Sunday at the Buckhannon Armory.
Cathy Ross said Bowers approached her with the idea for the auction and is the sponsor.
"We've been through so much, and everybody's so concerned and wanting to help," Cathy Ross said. "Everybody's been wanting to just do something. It's just nice to see everybody kind of coming together and just helping my daughter."
The dinner will be prepared by Jackie Bailey and her brother-in-law Todd Tenney. Cathy Ross said Bailey's entire family and some friends have committed their time to helping with the meal preparation, auction or wherever else they may be needed.
Many crafters from two annual Buckhannon craft shows, the Christmas Craft Show and the Middle School Craft Show, also donated items for the auction.
Contributions are still being accepted. Donations can be made for the auction by contacting Roberta at Kelly Motors at 304-472-2200 or Bowers at 304-871-7380. Prayers, cards and monetary donations are welcomed and may be sent to Tiffany Ross, Route 2, Box 284, Buckhannon, WV 26201.
Tiffany started experiencing lower back pain in August. Because the family lives on a farm and Tiffany rides horses, dirt bikes and performs farm tasks, the family initially thought the lower back pain she experienced was normal for that lifestyle, but the pain didn't pass. After seeking the medical help of various specialists from pediatricians to chiropractors, nothing seemed to work, Cathy Ross said.
The chiropractor Tiffany had been seeing decided to send her to St. Joseph's Hospital of Buckhannon for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test. Cathy Ross said the hospital wasn't able to perform an MRI at thattime, and Tiffany had to wait.
Tiffany was looking forward to her eighth grade year at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, but her mother said she's missed most of it, though she was able to attend the first part of the school year. Half of a school day passed before Tiffany told her mother she could no longer feel her toes. Cathy Ross said she immediately took her daughter to a West Virginia University Hospital in Morgantown where she was able to have the MRI.
The MRI resulted in the discovery of the cancer and a tumor along the spinal column. Cathy Ross said her daughter's tumor was pressing up against the spinal chord, causing some paralysis and pain. She also said her daughter's pain kept getting worse, and despite all the pain medications, the pain didn't appear to subside.
"It was terrible seeing her in that much pain and not being able to do anything," Cathy Ross said, adding that it took an epidural to finally make her daughter comfortable. "It was a godsend to finally have your child out of pain. The tumor shrank enough that it relieved some of the pressure off her spine. She's been pain-free since then, which is fabulous."
Cathy Ross said that medical officials at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia believe the proton radiation therapy will get rid of the tumor and prevent the risky back surgery. She said the staff told her they would rather see Tiffany go through the therapy than have the back surgery, because of the risk.
The Ross family and medical officials are hopeful that Tiffany can begin the proton radiation therapy in January, said Cathy Ross.
Cathy and Don Ross also have another daughter, 16-year-old Gillian Ross.
"You're trying to do for her and do for Tiffany, and juggle both of them, and keep their lives as normal as you can," Cathy Ross said.